The pipeline leak that spilled sewage into Arizona’s Santa Cruz River is sealed, but another pollution problem persists — one many other American waterways share.
Contaminants of emerging concern, or CECs, are chemicals from drugs and personal care products that most wastewater treatment plants don’t filter out. Some, including estrogenic compounds from products like synthetic birth control, disrupt the hormones of aquatic wildlife, harming reproduction.
For the first time in the U.S., scientists have genetically modified human embryos. The technique could help screen out heritable diseases, but many worry where it might ultimately lead.
As rumors spread in advance of the publication, the story sparked comparisons with films like Gattaca and books like Brave New World, with their themes of genetic discrimination, DNA-as-destiny and the social dangers of tampering with human heredity.
But the research’s most important — and, to some, troubling — aspect lies in the fact that it alters the hereditary DNA known as the germline.
Phoenix, Arizona, is not known for strong winds, but that all changes when monsoons annually deliver destructive downdrafts like the one that damaged its five-story Burton Barr Central Library. In this piece, and in the interview that follows it, I clear up some of the confusion that still whirls around these blasts.